Perhaps you know how the story goes – the man who once asked his wife what she did all day came home from work one afternoon to the kids running around naked outside, cereal spilled in the middle of the kitchen floor, clothes and toys spread from one end of the house to another. He calls for his wife and can’t find her, when he reaches the living room he finds the TV on, but no one is watching it. At this point in the story he’s getting concerned that something might have happened to his wife. When he reaches the bedroom, he fears how he might find her. He opens the door and finds her in her pajamas, sitting on the bed, and reading a book.
The man asks his wife what happened and she calmly explains, “You know when you asked me the other day, what it is that I do? Yeah, well, today I didn’t do them.”
While the husband would never dream of asking me something like that or in any way hinting that I don’t do anything all day, we have been living this one out. With mom sick and dad working, none of the usual household stuff gets done. No laundry. Junk food for dinner. Dishes piling up in the sink.
And it got me to thinking about Paul Ryan’s photo-op this weekend – you know, the one where he’s washing apparently clean dishes? Not that this is all that surprising to those of us who live in his district (well, the ones who are paying attention anyway). This is the man who voted against paid parental leave for federal employees, is against most forms of a social safety net, and until recently was an ardent follower of Ayn Rand. I suspect his wife has never been left home alone with a preschool child and a newborn baby just days after giving birth. Somehow I doubt either he or his wife are actively involved in any real dishwashing if there aren’t cameras there to record it.
So, there’s my challenge for today: Congressman Ryan – if you leave the cameras at home, I have a sink full of dirty dishes that you’re more than welcome to come and wash. Maybe then we can chat about what life is really like in your district. Perhaps then you might understand (just a little) what it’s like to be the wife of a public employee in 2012. I’d love to tell you what it was like when I was home alone two days after giving birth to my middle child because my husband had no access to paid paternal leave while you clean up my kitchen. I even have a dishwasher, though it leaks on the floor so make sure you put the bowl down in the corner before you start it up.
You’d like to portray yourself as a “man of the people?” Now’s your chance.